Recon teams with Oakley for Airwave Ski Goggles with ‘Heads-Up’ Data Display

Looking for a ski accessory that can set you apart from your friends? Then you might want to look at the Airwave ski goggles from Oakley that have just hit the market and the glasses company has teamed with Recon to significantly enhance the goggles.

Oakley joins a number of Recon partners in creating goggles that provide an interactive skiing experience, but the company looks to be taking it one step further, by providing an app that will enable an Apple iOS device to be part of the equation, and will be available in select Apple Stores. There has been an Android app available for some time.

Airwaves have a $599 list, so that they will not be an impulse buy, at least for most. The goggles come loaded with the sensor and communications technology that has been the hallmark of Recon.

You are probably familiar with Oakley but maybe less so with Recon, which would be too bad. The company makes what it calls heads-up display technology, but that is a rather dry term for an interesting product family.

The company makes a technology that gives you real time stats and data, using your goggles to provide a backdrop for the information that can include your speed, distance traveled, vertical descent and a number of navigational data points from its built-in GPS. It is designed in such a way that when you are looking out skiing it does not interfere with your vision but by looking in a predetermined area it provides a host of data from the sensors that are part of the unit.

You can purchase a unit that is able to snap into a number of different vendor’s goggles so that you are not limited to a single developer or style. They have the ability to connect to a smartphone and allow a skier to connect to incoming calls, view text messages or listen to music that is stored on the device. There is a remote that can be attached to gloves or the goggles themselves to control access.

Oakley Developing Connected Sports Glasses

A while back we mentioned that Google was developing glasses in an effort named Project Glass that would provide real time feedback for users-well it seems that they are not the only one and Oakley is in tests with technology that could rival Google’s efforts.

Oakley executives said that they have been working on connected eyewear since 1997, which makes them quite the visionaries, and that the technology that they are developing would be compatible with Google’s Project Glass.

The basic specs that it indicated it was working with would call for glasses that have a built-in features as well as the ability to connect wirelessly, via Bluetooth, to a smartphone, with the possibility to it supporting voice commands. In the past the company has released glasses that have an MP3 player, and the product line is still on the market under the name of Thump.

Initially Oakley sees this type or product being marketed at athletes and possibly the military as well. It has some patents related to this area among it’s over 600 patents and has said that it is willing to license them.

I suspect that rather than being a rival to Google’s efforts Oakley seems like a prime candidate as a partner, licensing the software and adding its own on top. I can see this taking off in sports, and also leagues passing rules to ban them. It would be a great advantage to a golfer if his glasses gave him all of the breaks or a baseball batter whose eyewear helped identify what type of pitch had just been thrown.

The more I think about it the more I think I would enjoy all of the potential chaos that this type of product would bring to professional sports.

It should be noted that you can already get glasses that provide real time feedback, or rather goggles, if you are a skier, since there are several options already available. Recon Instruments, a startup in Vancouver, it markets a technology called Micro Optics Display (MOD) and is designed for use in skiing goggles. It is an adjustable, color widescreen micro LCD that provides real-time information to the athlete such as speed, GPS location, jump airtime, vertical and total distance traveled, temperature, altitude and time.

While not quite the same as what Oakley and Google are developing I think it shows that this type of technology is nearing mainstream and will likely expand into a wide variety of applications going forward.